Editorial 9: The Casting of Captain Marvel

Pan came out this week, but it does not take a genius to see what is in store. The retelling of classic stories has been done to death. Oz the Great and Powerful, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman, Jack the Giant Slayer, and Maleficent are basically the same movie with a prophecy subplot, giant battles, darker tone, CG overdose, and a known actor being eccentric. Based on the trailer, Pan has all that and I see no reason to bother. Furthermore, my decision has nothing to do with Rooney Mara cast as Tiger Lily because it is a non-issue.

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Speculative casting articles are about as played out as lists and countdowns in geek oriented journalism. As fans we all know what we would like to see in the adaptations of our favorite characters and complain if we do not get our way. When a studio chooses the absolute worst actor or actress, we rush to voice our disagreements to no avail. While casting choices remain pure speculation, however, we hold out hope that whatever we have to say on the decisions of studios has some margin of influence like today’s subject.

Not long ago, MMA fighter Ronda Rousey announced her desire to play Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel, the female Superman equivalent of Marvel. She was human before an accident made her part Super Skrull with flying capabilities, super strength, and heat based powers. Danvers is also an Air Force Colonel and a skilled fighter pilot. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been in dire need of a totally female driven movie and Captain Marvel is probably the best option, as opposed to something about Black Widow or Wasp. Is Rousey the ideal choice to play Captain Marvel?
Here is the short answer.

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There is no denying Rousey is built to play a superhero. She has the look, attitude, and the skill for a stunt oriented role. Unlike the male actors of the MCU, her physique is made of real muscle and she knows how to kill people. Where she excels physically, however, Rousey cannot keep up in acting.

It is extremely unfair to judge new talent on a handful of performances. Rousey has been in three movies: Expendables 3, Furious 7, and Entourage, and based on those alone she does not qualify. Hiring an inexperienced actor for an expensive production is a big risk because it is impossible to gauge if said talent will come through in the end. Rousey simply lacks the acting ability, but she is not terrible as a Schwarzenegger type. I would like to see her in a Red Sonja remake if that ever happens. Casting her on the grounds of physical appearance is both dishonest and counter to the precedence Marvel has set since Iron Man.

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So who is the best choice to play Captain Marvel? As someone who read the eponymous comics by Kelly Sue DeConnick, I think I have enough of an understanding to select the right person.

My first choice would be Lucy Lawless if Agents of SHIELD had not wasted her in a part that lasted two episodes for a below average show. She epitomizes the strong female archetype with the way she carries herself in not just her performances but also her personality. She has a quick whit to keep up with her male counterparts and the experience working in physical roles like Xena and Hercules.

My next choice is Amanda Tapping from Stargate SG-1. She played Major Carter, the scientist archetype back when science fiction television was watchable. Along with the ability to speak the elaborate jargon and seem like she knows what she is saying, Tapping can play a military officer with heart. Danvers is similar to Carter as an officer that is not straightforward or by the book like many typical military characters, but competent enough to be a leader.

The best possible choice and the one I want to see most is Katee Sackhoff. With my decision comes heavy bias; I am one of those people that will watch anything she is in, even if I know it is terrible. It started with the new Battlestar Galactica (BSG), one of the last great television shows. While her character Starbuck was a maverick and ace pilot, she also had a number of personal problems like alcoholism, PTSD, and manic depression, and Sackhoff made them feel real. She imbued Starbuck with a strong personality that does not take anything from anyone and is never afraid to do something reckless. It is not too often Sackhoff was physical, however. She did some fist fighting, played around with guns, and did her own stunts, but in a very limited capacity. In terms of physique she is on par with Scarlet Johansson with more brawny, almost half the size of Rousey. Above all else, Sackhoff has the acting skill to bring Captain Marvel to life.

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On concept alone this article is pointless. It does not matter what anyone says because studios will do whatever they think is best for what they want. I can write a tetralogy of Punisher movie scripts with Michael Shannon in mind, but it will not change the fact Marvel cast Jon Bernthal and made Punisher a Daredevil character. With Captain Marvel, I can only hope they make the right decision and consider someone other than Ronda Rousey.

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